Lee Johnson has opened up on playing a front two as the season progresses with the tactical flexibility he has at his disposal in Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead.
Johnson is happy with the current system but posed the alternative when he spoke to the Sunderland Echo.
He said: “The mobility of both Rossco (Ross Stewart) and Nathan Broadhead, you are going to see that in a two up top throughout the season, absolutely no doubt about that.
“But while we’re playing well with a number ten in behind and our work in and out of possession is good, you obviously want to try to keep it as consistent as possible.
“When we recruit, we do so around tactical flexibility. The individual profile of the player is very important but it’s also crucial that we match partnerships and pairings up. Nathan has done extremely well, and we sign people because we believe they are good enough to get in the side and stay there.”
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With four games in the next 11 days the Black Cats will have to shuffle their pack to some degree and after these comments Nathan Broadhead looks like one of the first men on the fringes who will come in for a start.
Stewart has made an excellent start to the season in combination with Elliot Embleton in the attacking third, it will be interesting to see how the Scotsman gets on when paired with the precocious Broadhead.
The automatic promotion dream will feel more real with every victory Sunderland get and an alternative frontline could add some much needed variety so clubs cannot work out the high flying Black Cats, as they might have done in previous years.
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Johnson’s words will come as a huge confidence boost for Broadhead who has struggled for exposure in senior football in his career and now at 23, will be looking to make his mark on the Football League.
Soon to outgrow the Premier League 2 and with his contract at Goodison Park running out at the end of next season, earning the trust of Lee Johnson could take Broadhead a long way when the time comes for him to find a new permanent destination.
The 23-year-old’s presence would also take some of the pressure off of Stewart who has been handed the task of scoring the goals to fire the Black Cats towards the Championship.